just a thought – going immobile

Right after I graduated from fashion school, I was applying for jobs and doing the occasional freelance gig.  One gig I applied for, I emailed them some examples of my work and they asked me for my phone number.  I sent it to them but the only contact info I had for them was the email address.  I had only a land line at that point, and I lost the job just because they didn’t want to leave a message on my voicemail.

Upon learning this, I promptly signed up for a cell phone plan – a three year contract – determined to never lose a job because I couldn’t be contacted.  I didn’t shop around, though it probably doesn’t matter – Canadian telcos are notoriously expensive and nobody seems to love their provider.  I ended up never using the phone to much effect, and basically was counting the days until my contract expired by the end of the first year.

Looking back, the fact that this gig didn’t give out their phone number should have been a red flag in the first place – it seems so silly that I would make such a long commitment on such a small event but as a recent grad I guess I was feeling the stress of how I would make a living and felt I would try anything if it would help.

Of course I did eventually enjoy using the mobile phone – especially when I travelled – texting friends, you know, the usual.  Now that I evaluate every business expense more carefully to see if I get value from it, I didn’t feel that the cell phone was really pulling its worth relative to the cost.  So a couple months ago, when the contract expired, I cancelled the service and went immobile.

Going without mobility can seem a little bit rebellious – and to be honest when I did it I wasn’t sure if I could go back to just having a landline.  Now that I have done it, I am so pleased with how it works out.  I can count the times I have missed having a cell phone over the past three months on my thumbs.  How to go immobile and why?  Here are some advantages –

  • It is cheaper. Especially if you, like me, have a lot of long-distance clients, friends and family, long distance plans for home phones are still much more reasonable than cell phone plans, at least in Canada.
  • It helps to keep your work and your life more clearly separated. For someone like me who lives and breathes work, I know the ability to check my email from anywhere and overtweet would be a terrible temptation.  This way, when I am in the studio, I am working, and when I am not, I am not.
  • It keeps you in the moment. In meetings and social situations it allows you to completely focus on the people you are with.  This is something which won’t always be noticed but when it is it is always appreciated. You will also be more aware of your surroundings – making you a safer pedestrian, a better driver, and allowing you to experience your life more fully.

Maybe I’ve almost convinced you – the truth is that immobility is sometimes an inconvenience.  Some tips I would like to share from the cell-less experience –

  • It takes confidence. The cell is the new social security blanket – if you’re not sure what to say or you don’t know anyone, you can look busy by pressing buttons on your phone.  Without it, you can carry around a paperback or a notebook, or maybe a camera – or for the gutsiest, train yourself to be comfortable being seen doing nothing, all alone.  I think it makes you more observant and encourages you to be more outgoing.
  • You have to follow through on your plans. If you’re going to meet someone, you should be there, on time, because you can’t make any calls saying “stuck in traffic” or, “have to cancel” within a few hours of the appointment.  You will occasionally find yourself unable to find people or places – you have to search for yourself to find the right door.  I guess it encourages you to be more resourceful and to give yourself more time.  I still occasionally come home to amusing voicemails after meetings from people telling me they will be a few minutes late.
  • Be committed to it. Don’t be one of those people always asking to borrow someone’s phone.  Its on a par with those so-called non-smokers who always ask for cigarettes.  Its okay every once in a while but it should only be for a good reason.  I think it encourages you to really evaluate what calls are necessary – and if we are to be really honest, most of them are not.

Mobiles – are you a user, an addict, a lover or a hater?  Would you ever go without, why or why not?

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11 thoughts on “just a thought – going immobile”

  1. I’ve had a cellphone for nearly ten years now and I hardly ever use the damn thing. The only time I’m ever on it is to text people when they’re not right with me or when someone else calls me. I’ve considered giving it up, but it’s been impractical since we’ve moved so far away from everyone we know, making US more mobile and therefore needing a phone that is, too.

    Good thoughts, though! And go you for making the switch.

  2. I totally agree with everything you bring up in this post. I can see the appeal of cell phones, and I often feel the pressure to use mine more consistently to seem more professional, but I like being unavailable at times. I like the division between work and play, and most of all (as you brought up) I like living in the moment and giving people my full attention. There’s nothing more obnoxious than having a heart-to-heart with a cell phone in the middle, or text messages punctuating the conversation.

  3. I have a pay-as-you-go phone that I won’t give up in case of an emergency, but that I only turn on if I am meeting someone or need to make an outgoing call.

  4. Phones in general make me jumpy! and of course i hate that feeling.
    I’ve never been into cell phones (I forget it at home very often) but once I got married, me and my Husband decided we should each get one “just in case”. Virgin mobile i found is best for us, $20 every three months to top up and we’re set. We don’t use more than that unless one of us is out of state for a while. The best thing about cell phones: texting. I definitely prefer to be texted as it is less intrusive. A lot of the times I find them pointless. People who need to get in touch with you shouldn’t have issues leaving you a message on your landline. That’s how it was done in the good ol’ days. The worst, and one of my biggest pet peeves are people who think it’s okay to chitchat on their cell while driving. It just turns their brains off.
    Danielle, you’ve made excellent points! great post 🙂

  5. I’ve been without a cell for 3 years now. People don’t understand what I mean when I say that I have complete peace. I’m not a slave to technology, nor my social or work life.

    I take public transportation, and it’ so funny to see or hear others go from one conversation with a person to another, or incessantly play games/read/text/play music on their phones. No one knows how to just chill anymore!

  6. Oh, tell me about it, I have friends who are so addicted, that even when we are just hanging out, they are always texting somebody…which I find very rude, but the answer I always get is that, they can multitask!

    Funny, till about a week ago, we were sharing one cell phone between two of us, with Ryan…its been about 6 years this way and now he decided to get his own, but only pay as you go.

    I usually do not pick up my cell phone on weekdays when I am at work. I have a land line and everybody knows the number…People sometimes freak out about it, but my answer is that you can always reach me on the work number if you really need to!

  7. Hahah well we have to have a cell phone in Japan but they are so much better than in Canada. I only pay about 30 dollars a month and I have unlimited email worldwide. So I can message my friends or family or whoever from my phone. I never actually talk on it. Everyone just messages here. It’s amazing! I am addicted to messaging 🙁 Sorry Danielle! 🙂

  8. Anthea – hope I didn’t come off as too anti-cell, for sure some people need them for their jobs or enjoy them for the convenience and sociability aspect, and I don’t begrudge that at all. Frankly, if I had (a lot) more money I’d buy an iPhone.

  9. I’ve never had a cell phone myself and I never miss having one. Boomers keep pushing cars on me and Gen Y their cell phones, but frankly, I feel like it would benefit them more if I played along than it would me.

    That being said, I agree with you on the super shiny new iPhone; however, I would never give out my number.

  10. Just in time, my piece of shhhhhet phone just died on me, and now I’ve been mobile-less for a a few days. This makes me feel better about not being able to afford to buy a new one.

  11. Oh – Canadian cell providers are so lousy, I agree! I barely use mine; every now and then when I’m with friends out of town, if we separate for a while – so we can find each other. The real reason I have it is because I often make the drive from east of Toronto to Ottawa and back, alone and often at night. My current car is pretty reliable (touch wood) but I’ve had some others that weren’t so much, and if I get stranded in the dead zone on the 416 at 2 a.m. I’d like to have the option of calling CAA rather than waiting for some random potential rapist to drive by!

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